McHenry County Board Chairman Jack Franks pushes for property tax cuts, consolidation

McHenry County Board Chairman Jack Franks has a message for Springfield politicians: Wake up.

That was the sentiment of an address he delivered at the County Board’s Tuesday night meeting, where Franks pushed for Illinois leaders to focus on cutting property taxes and consolidating local governments to stop the population from hemorrhaging.

“It won’t be long until our struggling homeowners and businesses have to fork over the first of their two installments [of property taxes],” Franks said. “In June, they’ll be giving the arm, and in the fall they’ll be giving their leg.”

Before Tuesday’s meeting, Franks stuffed an April 6 article published in Crain’s Chicago Business into the mailboxes of County Board members. The piece revealed McHenry County homeowners last year paid higher property taxes than 96 percent of the U.S. Those property tax bills in McHenry County averaged $6,783.

“That’s almost double the national average for single family homes,” Franks said. “Our constituents are being taxed out of their homes. And yes, we did something about it. We worked together to reduce our property tax levy by 11.2 percent, but we have to do more.”

Illinois and McHenry County has been losing population to “tax-friendlier” locations, Franks said.

In the coming weeks, the County Board plans to invite local school districts to explore what tools and resources they need to reduce their own property tax levies by at least 10 percent, Franks said.

On the March primary ballot, a referendum sought voters’ perspectives about whether school districts should cut their property tax levies by 10 percent. More than 74 percent of voters voted “yes.”

The County Board approved putting the advisory referendum question on the ballot in December, encouraging school districts to cut their property tax levies by 10 percent.

“We also need general assembly to wake up and embrace an agenda that includes major property tax reform and major government consolidation,” Franks said. “Otherwise, out-migration will keep accelerating until we hit an economic and demographic point of no return.”